State of the Savage: April 2011

by Keith Savage · 43 comments

Traveling Savage at Skene House Rosemount, Aberdeen

I’ve got this horrible White Snake song stuck in my head. You know the one that goes “here I go again on my ooooown” followed by some clunky power chords? It’s been on a seemingly infinite, really short loop (I don’t know the rest of it) in my head since Sarah dropped me at the bus bound for O’Hare on Monday. It’s Tuesday afternoon in Scotland as I type this on the Glasgow-Aberdeen train. I’m still traveling. On my own. Again.

It’s a great cosmic irony that a homebody like me is trying to make it in the world of travel writing/blogging/what have you. Especially as a solo traveler. Still trying to figure that one out. But I’ve traveled a lot in the last six months: five weeks in Argentina, three weeks in Scotland, one week in San Antonio, and now I’m on the front end of another five weeks in Scotland.

Sounds glamorous, right?

That’s how travel generally looks when there’s something worth escaping from. Whether it’s a job, toxic friends, or heinous home city – travel is often the clearest and easiest short-term answer to these problems.

But I love my home, my friends, my nearby family, my wife. Like it or not, travel is also an escape from those good things. For someone like me who likes routines and is prone to homesickness, solo travel can be mentally withering. I can hear it now, the world’s smallest violin.

There are weapons to fight this war: Skype, email, phone calls. I would have lost it long ago without these options, but there simply isn’t a replacement for the presence of a longed-for other. Travel is like a darkroom for the spirit, developing into focus what you really can’t live without. As much as it pains me now, I know it’s a damn miracle to see things so clearly.

Travel is like a darkroom for the spirit, developing into focus what you really can’t live without.

Sarah joins me in Scotland in just over two weeks. I wish my dad and the rest of my family could make it too; we had a great time together in 2009. These experiences are meant to be shared with loved ones. I think that’s what joy is.

I’ll probably tear up when I meet Sarah at the train station south of Aberdeen, but then I’ll rejoice because that damn song will have finally stopped haunting me. I’m not a drifter born to walk alone.

George Square, Glasgow

Plans & Happenings

I woke up this morning at the Skene House Rosemount in Aberdeen, jet lag free. It feels good considering how crippled by it I was in Edinburgh last month. Today is my first full day in Scotland on this five-week trip! Tonight I take the overnight ferry to the Shetland Islands to experience the Shetland Folk Festival and spend a few extra days exploring the islands. I’m excited to see how Shetland compares to Orkney and the rest of Scotland.

A week from today I fly back to Aberdeen, pick up a car, and head off to Speyside. Have I mentioned that I won the MoraySpeyside Tourism’s Best Holiday in the World contest? I’ll be meeting Rene Looper, the organizer of the competition, somewhere and partaking in a slate of activities throughout my week in Speyside. I’ve also got a series of appointments with distillers in the region, including Aberlour, Balvenie, Cragganmore, Glenfarclas, and Glenrothes.

Then Sarah arrives! I’ll pick her up at a train station around Aberdeen before we head to Ballater in Royal Deeside to enjoy the east side of the Cairngorms National Park. Of course we need to see the west side, too, so we’ll spend a few days in Nethy Bridge courtesy of HomeAway Holiday-Rentals.

We’ll head north of Inverness after that, to Black Isle. As Ian Rankin told me, it’s neither black nor an isle, but it’s still beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing Redcastle, home to one of my MacKenzie ancestors.

Our last week will be spent touring around the Isle of Skye. Its beauty defies a wordsmith’s craft, but I will continue to try my best.

Parting Blow

Now I’m listening to that White Snake again and it’s not so bad. Lonely street of dreams? That’s pure poetry. What is it about travel that makes 80s hair metal/rock sound so good? I experienced a resurgence of appreciation for Bon Jovi on my 20-hour bus ride to Salta back in November.

Is solo travel easier for those without significant others?

Lauren@GreenGlobalTravelNo Gravatar July 25, 2013 at 1:49 PM

I love this quote you wrote about travel “Travel is like a darkroom for the spirit, developing into focus what you really can’t live without.” Good luck with future travels 🙂

Kevin PerryNo Gravatar August 17, 2011 at 8:43 AM

Love the blog,just wondering if you have been to Southeast Asia or any other continents besides Europe and North and South America? The experience will be very different from traveling in a country where English is so common.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar August 17, 2011 at 9:15 AM

Yes, I spent a month in Argentina back in November. While interesting, the experience didn’t jibe with my vision for Traveling Savage in large due to the language barrier obstacle. I purposely switched to English-speaking countries after that trip.

JohannaNo Gravatar May 6, 2011 at 6:14 AM

Hi – you are going to have a great trip – I recommend you def. visit Cromarty on the Black Isle – it is a beautiful small town – (the Cromarty Bakery great for a pie or cake on the move or Cromarty Emporium is a great bookshop selling coffee too).. On Skye – you must drive down to Elgol to view the Cuillins – one of the best views in Scotland (maybe not if reaining and cloud is low). If you are at Mallaig – you might want to try to take the mailboat to Knoydart – it is part of the Scottish mainland but only accessible if you walk or take a boat – treat yourself to a meal/drink at The Old Forge – the most remote pub in the UK. (Amazing seafood) – oh and if you are in Inverness – you must go to Leakeys Secondhand Bookshop in Church St – it is amazing! Happy travels. Johanna.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 6, 2011 at 10:27 AM

Thanks for all the tips, Johanna! I’ll keep them in mind as we head in that direction.

ayngelinaNo Gravatar May 1, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Wow you’ve been busy lately! I’m sure it will be incredible to have Sarah with you to share in the experience.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 1, 2011 at 7:08 PM

I’m just a little concerned that it’ll make traveling solo again after this trip even more difficult.

SeriNo Gravatar April 30, 2011 at 2:24 PM

Oooh enjoy Nethy Bridge – I went there two years ago on a big family trip and it was really enjoyable, it’s a lovely area. While you’re there, you should definitely take the funicular railway to the top of Cairngorm Mountain – it’s absolutely stunning. =)

Ballatar is also lovely, it’s definitely one of my favourite villages in Royal Deeside so hope you enjoy that too!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 30, 2011 at 6:26 PM

Hi Seri, I enjoyed the funicular ride up the Cairngorms a couple of years ago, though I would consider just hiking up. The view from the top is pretty awesome.

I’ve yet to visit Royal Deeside – shockingly – so I’m really looking forward to it.

AdamNo Gravatar April 30, 2011 at 10:25 AM

skip most 80’s rock and go back to the 70’s. ie, Heart – Barrucada. awesome.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 30, 2011 at 11:57 AM

Or Led Zep? Ramble On is a nice one to have stuck in your head.

GiuliaNo Gravatar April 30, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Isle of Skye! Wow, can’t wait to read about that.
I spent 9 months in Scotland (actually I was studying at St Andrews University with Prince William… ehm) and had an amazing backpacking tour of the Highlands. I loved Isle of Skye… such a dreamlike place. 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 30, 2011 at 9:57 AM

Looks like the prince got away from you 🙂 Skye is awesome and majestic and too big to consume.

KatherinaNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 7:05 AM

Interesting point. Frankly, up to now, I haven’t been the typical solo traveler. I do prefer traveling with my family or friends most of the time. However, I do enjoy, from time to time a quiet travel for myself… and don’t let other’s preferences determine my travels. That is, if I want to go somewhere badly and don’t seem to find the same reaction in others – I go anyways. You have to be true to yourself and try to combine the things you love – travel & home as best as possible.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 9:43 AM

That’s very ballsy and cool of you Katherina. It was fun meeting you in Edinburgh and I can tell you’ll be going to a lot of places in the future.

AdamNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 5:47 AM

Wow Keith,
Didn’t realize you were planning to spend so much time in Scotland. Sounds like you’ve got some great opportunities ahead of you, though. Enjoy!


Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 9:34 AM

Thanks Adam! It’s going to be Scotland for the foreseeable future.

Michael HodsonNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 2:31 AM

sounds like and incredible time in such a wonderful country. Enjoy the mini-reunion.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 2:47 AM

I’m already looking forward to the reunion!

Jeremy BNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 11:08 PM

There is NOTHING better than 80s hair bands! It’s my favorite type of music! With that said, glad you won’t be living out a White Snake song much longer. There are many hair band songs people would want to live out – that’s not one of them! Continue to enjoy Scotland! 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 2:46 AM

Jeremy, please provide examples of 80s hair band songs people want to live out 🙂

KevinNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 11:00 PM

Very familiar with the home body vs. wanderlust tension. Home wins for now: we are headed back to Madison in June. (see you then?) But with an intervening Kenya/Turkey ramble, all of which is poorly planned other than friends’ places to fall back on. This will be the first time in a LONG time that I get to travel with a partner. Traveling alone has its charms but it sure is nice to be able to turn to someone and say Whoa, did you see that?

Safe travels! See you on the other side of a pint in June.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 2:45 AM

It’s a weird tension to have, isn’t it? Yes, I miss sharing a moment with someone else when I’m traveling solo. We’ll definitely get a pint sometime in June, my schedule will have settled down after TBEX.

JunoNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 10:52 PM

Great post Keith. Heartwarming post. Recently, there are many posts and articles about relationship, love, and all the relations with travel. I could feel your joy, your hard time, and love while reading this post.
It is really sweet that you love your home, your family. Often, we are actually running away from those things. I guess it will be different with a soul mate, though. 😉

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 2:49 AM

The thing about a soul mate is that you don’t really care if you’re running away or staying put as long as you’re with that person.

JunoNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 7:40 PM


Ted NelsonNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 3:33 PM

I would rather have Whitesnake in my head than Barry Manilow. Have a great trip.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 5:11 PM

I suppose there’s always a brighter side. I’d rather have Barry Manilow in my head than Billy Ray Cyrus.

islandmommaNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 12:33 PM

I adore being solo, both travelling and in life in general. That said, if ever met a person with whom I wanted to share my life everything would change, in a heartbeat! And that also said, I can’t imagine at the age I now am, falling for a guy who didn’t love travel! To everything there is a season.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Turn, turn, turn. Perhaps when you give a piece of yourself to someone else, you don’t really want to give it up.

Andi of My Beautiful AdventuresNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 8:25 AM

I think it’s important even when you’ve fallen in love with someone to always remain true to yourself and follow your heart, so I think it’s brave and awesome that even though you have an amazing wife you’re still traveling solo. Once I get married I will make sure that from time to time I still travel solo as well, as I believe that traveling solo is the one act in life that teaches you the most about yourself.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 9:39 AM

What if being true to yourself means being with the people you love?

Jeremy BNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 11:15 PM

Keith, in reference to Andi’s comments, each person/couple is different. There are some who could never imagine traveling separately. There are some that enjoy it and find it healthy. In the end, you should do what feels right to you.

Just recently, my wife and kids were gone for a week and a half. It was a great time to reflect and realize how much I missed them. If you can learn that when you travel, it’s a great lesson that you will cherish. I still enjoyed my time on my own and got a LOT of stuff done but it makes you appreciate them more when you are separated.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 29, 2011 at 9:42 AM

Agree – I usually recognize this feeling about a day into a trip. It’s the remaining five weeks that’s problematic. 🙂

ClaireNo Gravatar May 24, 2011 at 8:20 AM

I like this-I am about to go on a solo trip (my first ever) and am leaving my husband behind. I am glad he supports me, and am glad for the opportunity. I agree with Andi-I am pretty sure that I am going to learn alot about myself!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 24, 2011 at 2:15 PM

I’ve no doubt you will learn a lot about yourself. Best of luck to you and your husband. It will be trying at times so make sure you’ve got some mementos or crutches in place. I use mine all the time and I’m always thankful we thought ahead.

ChristineNo Gravatar April 27, 2011 at 9:24 PM

Interesting point, and one that I think is quite valid. I love solo travel, but mostly because I’m single and carefree and young. If I met someone who I loved and who I wanted to travel with–I don’t think I would be nearly as keen to travel on my own–at least not as much as you are!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 9:39 AM

Thanks for sharing your point of view, Christine. I wondered as much.

JeanNo Gravatar April 27, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Bon Jovi is always a good idea. Safe travels, Savage, and be sure to cover the impending election!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 9:35 AM

No, Jean, Bon Jovi is rarely a good idea. I wonder how royal wedding crazy it will get here in Shetland tomorrow. I’m betting minimal craziness at best.

StephanieNo Gravatar April 27, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Ah Aberlour. Say hi to Chris (ehhhhh) for me.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar April 28, 2011 at 9:34 AM

I hope he’s still there. What a character!

KenNo Gravatar April 27, 2011 at 6:22 AM

Your family is very lucky. Have a good trip, Keith.

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